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Fairey Rotodyne

Barrington Bond

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... and more!
 

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yasotay

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Always a pleasure to see new information on one of the greatest "should have been" efforts. Thanks so much.
 

Barrington Bond

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..and a little bit more still!
 

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Antonio

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Great pics. Thanks a lot Mr Bond!
 

Barrington Bond

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Bit more still...
 

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Barrington Bond

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From The Aeroplane 14 Nov 1958.
 

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fredgell

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From the depths of the web - a nice might have been.
I cant cite the originators - it's dated Apr 2005 and no web links
remain that I can find.

Enjoy

Fred
 

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amsci99

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fredgell,

Thanks for the pic, less boxy version of the Rotodyne. Alas, it was not to be, more so the pity! Please do post more if you happen to have them.
 

Barrington Bond

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No more photos from that particular article I'm afraid.

Regards,
Barry
 

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Barrington Bond

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Is SEARCH trying to tell me something? When using it to find the thread for Rotodyne is suggested that I might have meant ROTTEN ;D

The Aeroplane 19th April 1957.
 

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hesham

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Jemiba said:
Welcome rocketeer !
A naval variant of the Rotodyne is unknown to me so far, sounds interesting !
The latest variant I know, is the Tyne powered Rotodyne, a 3-view from
D.Wood "Project Cancelled" is shown below. Regarding this book, this variant
should give "the services" a vertical take-off transport capability for e.g. 70 troops,
trucks, missiles or the fuselage of a fighter. Implicitly a naval use maybe mentioned
here .... To enhance performance especially in hot-and-high conditions, fitting of
an additional R.B.176 in each nacelle was proposed.

The Rotodyne type-Z;
http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1960/1960%20-%201942.html
http://www.aviastar.org/helicopters_eng/fairey_rotodyne.php
 

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Stargazer2006

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Something interesting is how expectations in the 1950s regarding air-transport, especially on relatively short distances between large cities, were basically wrong and even insane, from an environmental and energy-conservation point of view :

"Rotodyne would cover the Brussels-Paris distance in a 58-minute flight, when there is only one train a day between Brussels and Paris covering the distance in 2 hours 54 minutes" (from the Fairey Rotodyne promotion movie).

Nowadays there are between the two cities 52 TGVs per weekday, covering the distance from centre to centre in 1 hour 22 minutes (maximum speed 300 km.h, equivalent energy consumption per seat 2,2 litres of petrol per 100 km).

One can only wonder how many rotations by Rotodynes or the like would be necessary and the greenhouse gas emissions that would result, and not even counting the increased noise pollution at each terminal plus the increased risk of accidents in congested areas.
 

LowObservable

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There is a basic problem with all public-transport VTOL ideas. You need to have traffic beyond an ultra-premium Concorde-type market and to do that you need frequency and diversity of service. You cannot physically do that from the Pan Am building or a barge in the Thames, and with likely noise levels you get forced out to a "brownfield" site just outside downtown - which could still be tenable, particularly if it's on the city rail system.

But - once you've got half a dozen gates, a terminal, parking, landing and aircraft-parking spots, it doesn't take much more space or more money to add a short runway. And a STOL airplane designed for 2,000-foot runways - no interconnecting engine gadgetry, basically conventional with quiet, slow propellers, naturally blown flaps - will be a lot cheaper and more efficient than a VTOL.

And if you're de Havilland Canada you'll actually build one, and sell 113 of them.
 

yasotay

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LowObservable said:
There is a basic problem with all public-transport VTOL ideas. You need to have traffic beyond an ultra-premium Concorde-type market and to do that you need frequency and diversity of service. You cannot physically do that from the Pan Am building or a barge in the Thames, and with likely noise levels you get forced out to a "brownfield" site just outside downtown - which could still be tenable, particularly if it's on the city rail system.

But - once you've got half a dozen gates, a terminal, parking, landing and aircraft-parking spots, it doesn't take much more space or more money to add a short runway. And a STOL airplane designed for 2,000-foot runways - no interconnecting engine gadgetry, basically conventional with quiet, slow propellers, naturally blown flaps - will be a lot cheaper and more efficient than a VTOL.

And if you're de Havilland Canada you'll actually build one, and sell 113 of them.

Nope, not even. At least no in the US. People don't want to fly in things with propellors. That is sooo twentieth Century. Market acceptance is second only to seat/mile cost.
 

LowObservable

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Just to clarify that I was talking about the Dash 7, which corresponded to an early-1970s STOL airliner spec devised by a consortium of airlines.
 

yasotay

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LowObservable said:
Just to clarify that I was talking about the Dash 7, which corresponded to an early-1970s STOL airliner spec devised by a consortium of airlines.

I hope you note I was trying to be "witty & cynical". Alas it is true; unless you are going to cut ~$200.00 off the ticket or make the journey not cost the bussinessman/woman time sitting around the airport it will not impact. The hard part at this point I think would be to develop the infrastructure to support SSTOL and VTOL transport system. A briefing I saw once showed that you could have something like eight landing points for on each of the outer runways at Atlanta-Hartsfield. If you could establish the air traffic structure for that you would have sixteen active takeoff and landing points at any given time, leaving the interior runway for the longer range CTOL aircraft.
 

Barrington Bond

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Nice model in the Science Museum , London.
 

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alertken

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Mod: Helicopter Life, editor@helicopterlife.com, winter 09, has A Bit of Nostalgia, Reg Austin, on Westland's internal process addressing in 1960 their new, overlapping assets Westminster/Rotodyne/T.194. Pics of 194 model/3-view.
 

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Does anyone have access to a proper sound footprint for the Rotodyne vs Chinook
I used to see it frequently and I dont recall it being anywhere near as bad as a Chinook.
Higher pitch maybe and more ragged but, to my recollection, not worse.

Given the oft repeated excuse that it was noise that killed it.

Cheers

Fred
 

alertken

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When innovation works, then joy, and with luck, prosperity ensues; when it flounders...not. UK did Bristol T.173/192 Belvedere; Vertol did (to be Chinook). Fairey did Rotodyne; Bell/Boeing (ex-Vertol) did (to be V-22 Osprey).

Why did the UK devices flounder? Please do not trite say "Govt. plodders and pols let us all down". Very large sums of our money were thrown at these UK projects, plus massive "intramural" effort in Defence Establishments: that was the UK system: Basic Research by boffins at taxpayers' expense; Applied Research, then Product Development, done by engineers in industry (and in Aero, almost all, almost always, at taxpayers' expense).

Chinook did, as Belvedere did not, solve the practical, field-operations challenge of putting innovation into useable inventory. And my, that took a long time, through Piaseki, Vertol, Boeing. Ditto the convertiplane - was that 4 decades to deliver, boots-on-ground? If I knew any of DoD's procurement issues on either of those programmes, I would doubtless see frequent near-cancellation. Yet a procurer-champion persevered, for each of them. RAF sought Chinook from the day of Belvedere's Release to Service; RN and RCN escaped from T.191/193 before they were singed or worse by its incendiary starting process.

Rotodyne needed the package of technologies that Osprey now has - lightweight structure, highly dependable/efficient engines, controls avionics of multi-sigma reliability. Champions threw money at to be Osprey; RR did not see a market for Tyne/Rotodyne sufficient to attract Installation Development better applied elsewhere (in 1960/61 Spey could be sold to anything on wings); UK controls sector - Boulton Paul, Dowty, Fairey (Hydraulics - the bit not taken over by WAL) - were averse to spending their own money. MoA had pumped £4Mn. more into Rotodyne, 1961, but little of that trickled down from the airframer. RAF decided that a STOL Herald or HS748 would do nicely; BEAC decided that the effort of mounting another niche business - analogous to Highlands & Islands - was simply too hard: business payoff was equivalent to adding a couple of %age points to load factor and seat-revenue yield on proper aeroplanes. No champion. Nobody's fault. Wrong time.
 

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For the Rotodyne's original purpose - fast intercity travel - there never was a right time. For this to succeed against a train (slower, but city centre to city centre) plus fixed-wing transport (faster, but needs to use out-of-city airports), the Rotodyne needed - and still would need - city-centre heliports in all cities to be served. And I mean as close to the city centre as a railway terminus. The existing London heliport at Battersea was considered to be too far out - it took too long to get to the city centre by taxi. The cost of installing all of these heliports on the most expensive land in the country, plus concerns about noise and risk to the public, as well as the inherently greater cost per seat-mile of passenger operations, meant the idea was a dead duck from the start.

Even today, commercial helicopter flights are only feasible in the very few instances where there is really no alternative (e.g. getting personnel to and from North Sea oil and gas rigs in a reasonable timescale) or as a very expensive taxi service for a few wealthy people. It is a very small market niche, and probably always will be. Tilt-rotor transports are even more expensive than helicopters, so they won't help.

Flying taxis aside, the driver for VTOL transport has to be the military, with any limited commercial use in adapted military transports (or at least, using the same technology as developed for the military).

The gyrodyne principle offered a high performance relatively simply, unlike the various tilt-rotors and other complex designs which took modern computerised design and control systems to make feasible. The Rotodyne delivered far better payload/range and speed performance than any comparable contemporary helicopter, and probably still would today, if the design had been developed over the intervening half-century.

However, it was probably a mistake to make the Rotodyne the first product - jumping in at the deep end, as it were. A family of gyrodynes starting with a small trainer/army liaison craft, and then gradually working up in size and capability, might have been an easier sell.
 

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On the economic practicability of cityport STOL, see this week BA's boss warning the new owner of London City Airport not to expect to recover their "foolish" price by uplifting landing/pax. handling fees. I pay you £20 per pax. now, he said: ramp it up and we will leave. Business game, maybe, but in Rotodyne context: just because a techno-evolution can be done, does not mean operators will buy. The whole LCY operation - bespoke equipment, crew - takes more management time to deliver less to the bottom line than does adding a couple of 777s. Then discount that share of STOLport traffic that is not incremental, but which cannibalises BA's existing Heathrow/Gatwick short haul, and the pain becomes masochistic.
 

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ISTM that the whole tip jet idea was simply not a success. Not only loud, but an ear busting frequency. Offhand, does anyone know of any tip jet copters that went into service?
 

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A lot of work was put into reducing the noise level of the Rotodyne, apparently successfully, but that was not enough to save the project. Even if it had been no noisier than a normal helicopter, the economic case for a VTOL commercial transport didn't stack up (and still doesn't).
 

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Press photo. The reverse side reads:
Windmill of the skies
White Walthan, England: Members of the World's press were invited by the Fairey aviation company to see this demonstration flight of the Fairey Rotodyne vertical take off airplane at White Waltham, England. Top photo shows the aircraft from below after it has risen vertically with the aid of the helicopter blades. Note that the propellers in the front have begun to spin, ready to take over for standard horizontal flight. Bottom photo shows the Rotodyne ground ready for closer inspection. 6 / 6 / 1958
eBay auction ID: 292282311995
 

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Caption writers, gotta love 'em.

The props were always spinning when the engines were running, on account of how they were permanently geared to the engine shafts.
 

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Additional press photos.
 

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Winston

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Photographs.
 

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Winston

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Brochure and sales sheet.

eBay ID: 142560036098
 

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Feliks Andrew

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Here, such a film that I made to make everyone realize how flimsy the helicopter blades are ... Now at the end of such propellers we put a jet engine, it will cause the propeller to fall into vibrations that are not safe for the helicopter flight ... and these vibrations with high amplitude, deepened by engine thrust ..


A
 

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How would modern technology effect the design of the Rotodyne. Has sound suppression developed sufficiently to reduce the noise level and could the light from tip jets be reduced. .

The one feature which I have always disliked is the height of the rotor pylon, I image this could be reduce by the used of carbon fibre rotor blades which should allow a reduced clearance between the rotor and the turboprops blades. Alternately could Turbofans to be used instead of Turboprops.
 

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